The fifth article in our weekly series on the countries best non league football grounds takes us to the county of Essex, compiled by Andy Campbell – otherwise known as the excellent @nonleaguecrowd on twitter.
There are so many ways of getting to a top 5 of football grounds in Essex.
The nearest to my home by Step – Step 1 Dagenham & Redbridge, Step 2 Braintree Town, Step 3 Brightlingsea Regent, Step 4 Witham Town and Step 5 Stanway Rovers
The last 5 that I’ve visited – Witham Town, Brightlingsea Regent, Wivenhoe Town, Chelmsford City and Barkingside
The top 5 teams in the pyramid – Dagenham & Redbridge, Chelmsford City, Braintree Town, East Thurrock United and Concord Rangers
The simple answer is that there are so many grounds in Essex – you could ask 100 people and get 100 different answers! My 5 grounds, in no particular order, and the reasons for picking them are as follows:
5 Spa Road, Witham Town
Worth a visit to see the legendary non-league one-man ultra – James Beardwell – famous on twitter as @undateables_jb – pretty much whatever the conditions, whatever the score – James and his collection of flags will be behind the goal that Witham Town are attacking.
At the end of the game, it is common to see the whole Witham Town team go and congratulate James – win or lose. The heart and soul of a non-league football fan is visible for all to see at Witham Town.
Visit the Witham website here.
4 New Lodge, Billericay Town
No club in Essex has generated more media coverage than Billericay Town and their unique owner Glenn Tamplin. Whatever your views on the amount of money that Glenn has pumped into Step 3 and the Bostik Isthmian Premier, he has transformed Billericay Town’s ground.
It is well worth a visit and whilst it might not be possible for everyone to see the newly painted changing rooms – all visitors can at least see the giant mural painted behind the Harry Parker Stand.
Visit the Witham website here.
3 Elmstead Road, Wivenhoe Town
A real yo-yo club tucked away in Essex – they have successful years and they have unsuccessful years – a season of stability and big wins, followed by a season of managerial sackings, players moving on, financial issues and heavy defeats.
The ground is unique – including a main stand – where it looks as if construction was halted halfway through – with what look like a number of pillars that go way beyond the stand itself. Worth a visit!
Visit the Wivenhoe website here.
2 The Taydal Stadium, Brightlingsea Regent FC
Whenever there is a downpour and I need a match – I turn to Brightlingsea Regent and their famous ‘sponge’ of a pitch that soaks up pretty much everything that the weather can throw at it!!
They are also a club that have risen through the football pyramid – a wonderfully friendly set-up and well worth a visit.
Visit the Brightlingsea website here.
1 Parkside, Aveley FC
Not often we have an award-winning ground in Essex, but the newest ground in Essex (pictured top) ticks so many boxes and Parkside was voted the Best New Non-League ground in the 2017/18 season by Groundtastic.
A snippet from Groundstatic: “Across the large and impeccably marked out car park, a giant neon AVELEY FC sign blazes a welcome from the side of the clubhouse. Clad in blue and of impressive dimensions, the clubhouse incorporates the official entrance. This too is a minor work of art, the clubs name and crest proudly displayed above the entrance and on the glass door.”
Visit the Aveley website here.
So that is my 5 with the likes of Thurrock (Hopefully their future can be secured) and Coggeshall Town (Another club rising up the Pyramid and with a real celebrity fan behind them) just missing out – what would your Top 5 be? Let us know!
For more information on non league away days, from clubs you should visit to costs involved visit our Away Days section here. And if you would like to submit five grounds from your area then please email [email protected]
All photos in this article copyright and provided by Andy Campbell.
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